A new report from the UK’s leading digital youth charity, The Mix, offers unique insight into young people’s mental health in 2021.
The report looks at the issues mentioned by young people who contacted the charity’s helpline in the first six months of 2021, with a new six-month report to follow at the end of the year. The Mix supports under 25s with any issue they are facing and has seen demand for their online services rise by as much as 200% since the start of the pandemic.
Mental health and well-being and depression/low mood were by far the most common topics young people discussed on the helpline in April–June of 2021, with each being mentioned by at least a quarter of young people contacting the helpline. Anxiety was also discussed by over a fifth of young people.
The number of young people mentioning school and education has more than doubled from 3.3% (75 cases) in April–June of 2020 to 8.5% (184 cases) one year later, suggesting young people are worried about their education. Young people have told The Mix just how anxious and uncertain they are about their futures after disrupting exams and lessons. There has been a significant increase in the number of cases discussing exam stress, which have risen from 1.4% (32 cases) in April–June of 2020 to 3.7% (79 cases) a year later.
Interestingly, the data shows that the anger cases have more than doubled from 1.6% (35 cases) in January-March of 2020 to 3.7% (90 cases) one year later. Analysis of the helpline conversations suggests that months of insecurity, poor mental health, strained family relations, or lack of close contact with peers and loved ones due to the pandemic resulted in feelings of frustration, increased irritability, and anger.
The number of conversations around body image shot up from 0.3% in January-March of 2020 to 3.8% in January–March of 2021, the highest level recorded in the past two years. Many of the conversations around body image were linked to users struggles with mental health and weight, with some users perceiving themselves to be too skinny and others too large. Other key themes were loss of appetite, eating disorders, an unhealthy focus on eating habits, and pressure from social media’s focus on idealised attractiveness.
The Mix would like to raise awareness of just how many young people are still struggling with poor mental health because of the pandemic and how important it is that they get in touch with free and confidential services like TMix’sx’s helpline and peer-to-peer community, who can support them through the challenges they face.